Leaf of the Day:Samara of the Southern Red Maple

Today, to get back to painting, a study of one of the small samaras of the Southern Red Maple Acer rubrum v trilobum, native to Eastern United States and growing at Leu down by the lake overlook, with a small companion Sugar Maple, Acer saccarum ssp Foridanum nearby. There were bunches of these pretty winged seeds all over the ground a couple of weeks ago and I think, had I painted this one immediately, the colours would have been brighter. It’s very small, only 2.5 inches from the top of the wing to the bottom of the stem
This particular variety is distinguished from the regular Acer rubrum by its smaller and 3 lobed rather than 5 lobed leaves, which generally turn yellow rather than red in the autumn.

Trilobum leaves

Staminate, Male Flowers
These super photos by Will Cook, from the excellent reference page at “Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina” site here

These beautiful small flowers are also much loved by bees in the spring, and the more I learn about bees, the more concerned I am about them, and the need to plant and encourage bee friendly plants.

And the Red Maple is not only beautiful but useful. The early European settlers learnt how to utilise the maples from the native Indians and the Red Maple was used amongst other things to make ink and dye stuffs. Peter Kalm the student of Linneus wrote of the Red Maple in 1750, “Out of its wood they make plates, spinning wheels, spools, feet for chairs and beds and many other kinds of turnery. With the bark they dye both worsted and linen, giving it a dark blue color.”

Despite the icy temperatures of last week we haven’t seen snow here but those in northern climes must welcome the splash of colour from this lovely tree.
Here is a description from Donald Culross Peattie’s “Trees of Eastern and Central North America” again.
” All seasons of the year the Red Maple has something red about it. In winter the buds are red, growing a brilliant scarlet as winter ends, the snow begins to creep away and the ponds to brim with chill water and trilling frog music. So bright in fact that if one takes an airplane flight anywhere across the immense natural range of this tree one can pick out the red Maples by the promise of spring in their tops, for no other tree quite equals them at this season in quality or intensity of colour.

Ah… the promise of spring, doesn’t that lift your spirits? We already have more vocal birds here and yes, the frogs are getting noisier too..


Red Maple Samara

Size, 3.5 “. Watercolour on Arches HP

Leaf of the Day:The Maple

This is my last post of January and I am glad I managed to keep up one drawing every day. I am now in England away from the internet so unable to post with an image for about 10 days but hopefully will be doing some drawing every day… English leaves this time. I will post the results when I return.

While doing my daily drawings I have been working, bit by bit, on a more detailed study. Like many other artists I chose a maple leaf to draw. My main reason was to have something that would not wilt immediately and which I could leave and come back to over a space of about a week.
This dried leaf is one of many that have been blowing around the apartment, they are not there for long as 3 men clad in combat gear with ferocious blowers come often to round up these offending untidy leaves. They are then put in the dumpster.. dustbin to us Brits. Just one of the many words which sometimes make my conversations here completely incomprehensible to both parties. Use of the ‘wrong’ words in America can land you in deep and embarrassing trouble… but then you know that!
It seems a shame in some ways to reduce the yellows and oranges of this pretty leaf to greys but it was interesting to try to work out the tonal values.
I had to photograph it this time and I find that many of the subtle tones are lost, but it’s not too bad.

I now have to move onto more complicated studies so posting a drawing every day will perhaps prove impossible but I am aiming for 5 a week in February… we will see !

Maple Leaf